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Old US protest video recirculates amid Israel-Hamas war

Old US protest video recirculates amid Israel-Hamas war - Featured image

Author(s): Bill MCCARTHY / AFP USA

Rallies demanding a ceasefire in Israel’s war on Hamas have drawn crowds around the globe, but social media posts claiming a video shows demonstrators in the US capital storming private homes in 2023 are false. The clip being misrepresented across platforms is more than three years old and shows a resident opening his door to shelter protesters caught in a clash with police.

“AND THE PURGE BEGINS – 2 hours ago,” says an October 28, 2023 post on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Protests in Washington DC are hitting next level as rioters rush people’s houses.”

Screenshot from X, formerly known as Twitter, taken November 7, 2023

Similar posts spread across Facebook and Instagram in the days before thousands gathered in Washington to call for a ceasefire in Gaza, the largest protest in the US capital in the one month since Hamas militants stormed across the border in a bloody October 7 attack that according to Israeli officials killed 1,400 people, mainly civilians.

Some at the November 4 march slammed US President Joe Biden’s support for Israel, which has pounded Gaza with air strikes, killing more than 10,600 people in the territory, according to its Hamas-controlled health ministry. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said there will be no ceasefire unless the more than 240 hostages seized by the Palestinian militant group are freed.

But the clip of people piling into a Washington rowhouse is unrelated to the war and protests against it.

Reverse image searches surfaced versions of the video dating to June 2020 and news reports from the time about a man who welcomed more than 70 protesters into his Logan Circle-area home after a June 1, 2020 confrontation with police (archived here, here and here).

The crowd had been demonstrating after the May 2020 killing of George Floyd, a Black man at the hands of a white police officer in Minnesota sparked protests throughout the United States.

Local and national news reports, some featuring other footage of the mayhem, said the protesters were fleeing police arresting and using pepper spray on those violating a citywide 7 pm curfew in place that night. The man, Rahul Dubey, housed them until the curfew expired in the morning.

Peter Newsham, then the chief of Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department, said officers arrested 194 people on Dubey’s street that night and deployed pepper spray after reports of people kicking in doors on the block, adding that one officer communicated with Dubey through a window of his home (archived here).

Time magazine later named Dubey among its “Heroes of 2020” for the gesture (archived here).

Reached via Instagram direct message, Dubey said the video indeed shows people entering his home at his urging that night.

“This is me welcoming in peaceful protestors into my home on June 1st 2020 while they were being gassed and physically assaulted by police/government forces on Swann St NW,” Dubey told AFP in the November 7, 2023 message.

AFP geolocated the clip using Google Maps Street View (archived here), and a journalist walked past the street on November 7 to confirm the location on Swann Street.

Dubey has posted about the incident on Instagram several times, including one post sharing footage of the scene from a different angle and another documenting flowers and other gifts he received at his home after offering refuge (archived here and here).

AFP has previously debunked other misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war here.

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Originally published here.